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Research policy and strategic planning this fall

Dear Members of the research community:

The past months have been eventful: Sommet sur l’enseignement supérieur (February 25-26), bridging funds for the Fonds de recherche, the examination of the estimates of expenditures by the Committee on Culture and Education (February 13), the Assises nationales sur la recherche et l’innovation (April 15-16), the forum on art, culture and wellbeing (February 8), the one-day research training seminar (April 30), the Fonds day at the Congrès de l’Acfas (May 8), the discussion forum on sustainable development research (June 3), the launch of the Web space Le Québec en recherche (June 5) and the July mission to Mexico led by Premier Marois (my letter published in Le Devoir on July 16)… just to name a few. Of course, the Fonds teams have also been working very hard to contribute in the elaboration of the national research and innovation policy (NRIP), which will be released this fall as part of a series of announcements by the Québec government on a large-scale transportation electrification project and the industrial and trade and export programs. All in all, quite a busy autumn!

The overreaching priorities of the next NRIP were discussed at the Assises nationales sur la recherche et l’innovation and touch upon social challenges such as demographic change, sustainable development, national identity (French-language publications) and the means to secure funding for basic research and the next generations of researchers. Also, public-private partnerships will continue to be fostered to create a genuine knowledge society from which we all benefit. The government’s ambitious objective that research and innovation investment should reach 3% of the GDP requires the participation of all partners, from businesses of all sizes to the different levels of government, foundations and the public. It is essential that these partnerships be built on solid bases, in keeping with the most rigorous standards of ethics, integrity and proper governance. Québec’s reputation and that of its research community depend on it.

Thanks to the tireless work of their directors, the three Fonds de recherche, their teams and their boards of directors are very close to finalizing the 2014-2017 strategic plans, which should be approved at the October board meetings. Support for new generations of researchers constitutes a key component that will be revised to better reflect the current situation with regards to the diversity of career opportunities for graduates. There will be greater emphasis on intersectoral research since our social challenges increasingly require collaborative interdisciplinary efforts. In fact, this is the very reason why intersectoral research development was integrated into the chief scientist’s mandate. It goes without saying that none of this will be possible without substantial budget increases for the three Fonds. This fall, you will receive more information on our strategic planning.

What do the upcoming months have in store? The launch of the NRIP and the follow up efforts, including the budgets of the three Fonds for the next three to five years, the updates to the Fonds’ strategic plans through the annual actions plans, the implementation of intersectoral research programs stemming from the discussions at the forums held this past year, the development of research and innovation programs in response to the social issues outlined in the NRIP, new Fonds policies for scientific integrity and open access, our contributions to the initiatives developed out of the discussions at the Sommet sur l’enseignement supérieur, including, for example, the future Conseil des universités, and the elaboration of our international partnerships and research infrastructure support policies. The fall promises to be very busy and very stimulating. Consultations with CEGEP and university administrators will bring research training issues to the table, and we will seek to leverage our partnership offers to provincial ministries.

In terms of communications and knowledge mobilization, we will launch our new Web sites and social media strategy at the end of the year. These new tools will facilitate communications with our various clienteles and better promote some of our programs, including the Étudiants-chercheurs étoiles competition. They will also enable us to better highlight the significance of the knowledge and results that Fonds-funded research yields.

After this quick review of the past and upcoming months, I would like to wish you a restful summer. I look forward to seeing you this fall!

Rémi Quirion, O.C., C.Q., PhD, FRSC

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